Friday, September 19, 2014

In a Good Place: My Collage Process

It's common for people to assume that collage is just the haphazard process of sticking random things down on a substrate. Collage artists know that's not the case.

In an online art group I'm a member of, I also hear of people avoiding collage because they "Can't do it."

This post addresses both mindsets. 

Each week, the Documented Life Project (DLP) provides a prompt. This week the prompt was to use a feather. My chosen means of addressing all their prompts is collage. So how do I arrive at a finished project?

First I look through my stash to find the bits and pieces I think I may want to work with. In this case, I knew I wanted to work with a feather a friend had sent me. It's teal and purple and covered in clear microbeads. Knowing the feather was teal and purple, I chose bits and pieces that would work with those two colors. I usually only work with two or three colors. So you can see that my color scheme ranges from light blue to hot pink, purple, aqua....pretty much anything that looked good next to another piece.

I should also note that I have certain bits I love to incorporate as a sort of signature: black and white photos, cancelled postage, measuring tape, lace, numbers, etc. In other projects, that means eyes, hands, handwriting, Gelli plate scraps, and sometimes a word to meditate on.

Next I lay down the beginnings of a background. I usually work in sets of three, so you can see I have 3 bits with purple and two bits that are hot pinkish.

 Before I got too carried away, I wanted to make sure I incorporated the prompt item.  I also laid down the measuring tape and the number 9, again working for balance of the purple and hot pink colors.

 Next I added a beautiful tag a friend sent me in the mail. I pulled some bits off of it and added a few of my own (scallops, a cancelled stamp, and some 3-D roses). At that time, I tried to incorporate a heart, but I find that I almost always dislike the cartoonish type of heart. Anatomical hearts are more my thing.
 So I took off the heart and replaced it with a rose.

 I gave some thought to moving the tag and adding the anatomical heart, but it didn't work.

 So I moved the tag back into its original position. Then I began trying to fill in the white spaces. I added a Gelli print I'd done on deli paper. I added some paper lace and the word, "Imagine." I considered adding a series of chevron arrow-type shapes in the bottom corner, but it seemed too much.
 It always interests me that my eye won't leave an element alone. Notice I moved the imagine higher up, and it looks better than if it was closer to the 9. Why? I think it's because the eye is able to travel all the way across the page from pink element to pink element: from the imagine, to the "la rosa" card, to the stamped rose image, to the 3-D roses. And the feather points to that visual journey, so we get the bonus of emphasizing the feather too.

 I worried about the little square of white space. It really stood out to me, and I felt it had to be something dark to balance out the black writing of "imagine," the black in the rose, and the chevron/arrow thingies.

I get "happy mail" almost daily. What's happy mail? Well, other artsy people send decorated envelopes filled with ephemera--bits and pieces--fodder for art journaling, or in my case, collaging.
I had just gotten a happy mail that day featuring another favorite of mine: typewriters. I love anything that hints at my other love:  writing. I used the typewriter to cover the white space and instantly felt better...sort of. Even as I type this, the black elements seem a bit unbalanced. There are technically 5 elements with black. All of those items appear on the bottom half of my page. I imagine I'll go back and try to add some darkness to the top portion. Otherwise, I won't be a happy camper.

So here is my "finished" product, which is to say that, for me at least, a collage is never done. It's in a good place, for now. From start to finish, from the moment I began rifling through my bits and pieces, until the moment I glued down that arrow piece in the lower right-hand corner, I spent about 1 1/2 hours of blissful morning alone time. And now my day can begin.


  1. Lovely post Wendy! I'm friends with you on DLP and some other groups.
    When we're not busy , we must get around to exchanging Happy mail.
    Hugs, vicki

  2. beautiful layout/collage... I love your colors and how pretty it turned out!!!

  3. Thanks for sharing the process, one of the best tutes I have seen on this.

  4. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing your process!

  5. Great collage Wendy. My blog has sat Idly by awaiting me to post. I had a long hard summer but I'm about to begin blogging daily hopefully!!! You've inspired me to do just that. Loved the post on collage. It's beautiful. See you again in HML FB group.